Though the concept of taking a baseline was introduced to me originally as a weathervane tool to measure the before and after of somatics sessions, I’ve found that oftentimes even just taking the 5 minutes to guide my client (or myself) through a full inventory enacts significant change of its own.
With that in mind, I offer the experience for you to try. Read these instructions completely before starting.
Disclaimer yadda yadda: The following is offered freely as felt-sense education. It is not therapy and does not replace medical diagnosis or treatment. Please use your discretion in participating in this exploration as you do so at your own risk. If it hurts, stop. If you are currently suffering from chronic pain or acute injury, attempt these instructions only under direct medical supervision.
Take your baseline inventory
1) Lay on your back, legs straight, in anatomical position on a carpeted floor or yoga mat. Your palms will be facing the ceiling, fingers loose, arms gently sloping laterally away from your hips as they run down your sides.
2) From foot to head, slowly scan the length of your body. As you scan, note the quality of the connections you are making with the ground.
Focus your attention on the stamps made by your heels. How big are they? The size of a quarter? A dime? A coaster? Are the stamps perfectly symmetrical, or more kidney shaped? How do they differ from each other?
3) Now move to your Achilles arches and explore the space made by them. Where are they the highest? How are they shaped? How many fingers could you imaging being able to stack under them?
4) Continue to scan up your body, exploring your calves, thighs, pelvis, sacrum, buttcheeks, lower back arch, ribs, shoulders, neck arch, and head stamps. In general, I encourage my clients to especially note three stamps (heels, sacrum, and head) and three arches (achilles, low back, and neck.) for brevity and a consistent baseline to compare with, but your exploration is no way limited to those.
Bonus) When you come across tension that doesn’t seem to respond to your awareness alone, take a little time to explore using breath or a light touch to release. Look for a while and move on; try not to get stuck. Everything that’s going on in your body is there for a reason, and maybe now isn’t the time to let this particular thing go.
4) Once you’ve completed your part-by-part exploration, imagine a chalk outline of yourself – not the kind you’re used to seeing, which outlines your edges, but a new kind that outlines where you sense your body meets the floor, as if you’d been pressed into an ink pad before laying down.
I recommend the following method for most of my clients – if this one doesn’t work for you for some reason, create your own which allows you to get up slowly and comfortably. Take care when rising after doing somatics work – oftentimes people are rather light headed (it’s from the awesome).
1) Slowly bend one knee at a time toward the ceiling, dragging your heel along the floor. Bonus points for doing this a few times and noticing the shift that occurs in your posture, particularly in your hips and low back arch.
2) With knees up, slowly roll onto your side in a fetal position. Take care to maintain as much of the relaxed flop you’ve cultivated as you can – it will likely be gone soon enough, so don’t be in a hurry.
From here, utilize your elbows and knees to assist yourself to all fours, again maintaining as much lethargy in your limbs as you can.
3) While on all fours, tuck your toes under and shift your weight to the balls of your feet, aligning your center of gravity before slowly standing up
Congratulations! You’ve just taken an inventory, and now you have a tangible concept of where your body is in space and dimension, and a greater understanding of what’s going well and what might need further attention. Did you notice anything that changed or improved as you were taking your inventory?
Let me know if you want more.
Take care of you,
NOTE: You may find after these three breaths that you already feel different than you did before you laid on the floor. Or you may be struggling with holding on throughout the entire process and find doing this super frustrating.
Either way or in between, try your best to observe and refrain from judgement of your somatic practice. Every day and every baseline is different and there is no competition — in fact, though somatics is all about comfort and relaxing, many of the most profound somatics sessions are the ones that serve as an evaluation tool to help you better clarify where to focus further attention.